In a year that delivered disappointment and despair, Meg James unearthed goodness and shared it with all. The world traveler found her wings clipped, right as she was starting a new business promoting international hotels that engage in generous community service. The 35-year-old’s website had barely debuted when COVID-19 hit. Rather than pack it in, she pivoted to feature U.S. hotels she could drive to, with her husband and kids in tow. Today, James’s Go and Do Good directory lists almost 100 hotels travelers can visit, knowing a portion of their overnight fee is sending kids to school, providing showers to the homeless, feeding employees in times of need, and much more.
How did you come up with the idea for Go and Do Good? I was a mom of two boys under two, and I was losing my sense of business, or purpose. I’d worked in human resources for various companies before I had my first son. I loved being a wife and mother, but I thought, ‘What else can I do to make a difference?’ I started down the path of travel writing. People would say, ‘I loved your write-up on Facebook of your trip to Disney,’ and I turned that into a travel blog . . . but then we went to Peru.
Peru? Yes. It was a couple’s trip in August of 2019. Machu Picchu was a bucket-list item. I was researching where to stay and found Hotel Sol y Luna. When we got there, we realized the hotel runs a school for 200 Peruvian kids who would not go to school otherwise, and when they graduate, the hotel hires them! They gave us a tour of the school and we met these kids with hardly any clothes or shoes. I spent the whole plane ride back developing what the website would look like. From that moment on, we decided we will not stay at a hotel unless it gives back generously to others.
When setting up the business what did you find? When I research hotels, 98 percent of them are doing something, but it’s for the environment. My directory is for hotels that give back generously to charities in their local communities. I really believe we are being called to share about the things people are not seeing.
you barely got the website up and running, then COVID-19 brought travel to a halt. We quickly flipped our plans to U.S. travel and found a number of wonderful places that are community minded. In 2019, the site was revenue generating. In order to cover the back expenses of the website, I charge a one-time fee. But my way of giving back in 2020 was to waive that fee. It’s never been about making an income; it’s about making a difference and to challenge a traveler’s heart.
In the States, you showcase boutique resorts, like the Sage Lodge in Montana that’s helping healthcare workers escape the stress of COVID-19. I joke with my husband I’ve become an investigator for goodness. I stalk Google for hotels that give back. I’m aiming to show the really good news to come out of travel that you don’t always hear about.